Running Karma: what goes around…
Ever since moving to Alaska, my running has been unreasonably magical, sort of like an irritating chick flick or Disney movie featuring the proverbial enviable girl who has it all. High mileage weeks, flawless temperatures, satisfying workouts, paces to be proud of, and even a fun 10K race. It has been strangely easy to demand all of this from my body.
But you know what? Soak it up while it lasts, kid. Running is a cyclical sport. You have good days. You have good seasons. You have good years of running. And then? Crummy days. Unsatisfying seasons. Frustrating years. It goes around and it comes back around. Sort of like a hamster wheel. (A hamster wheel, you ask? Just wait for it).
In an ideal world, it’s all sort of karmaic: put in quality work, and eventually you reap the rewards.
Of course, it doesn’t always pan out that way: sometimes you put in the miles, ace all the workouts, pay attention to your sleep, nutrition, and ancillary work, do everything you’re supposed to do and in spite of all this dedication your race or season falls devastatingly short of your high expectations.
For mysterious reasons, I must be on some high end of the circle right now. I’ve been blasting through the mileage and accepting all these faster training paces and assuming that these piles of quickly-paced miles are simply the norm now. I’ve been taking it for granted, I’ve been abusing it.
And that all caught up to me this morning.
My legs rebelled.
And since I have no intention of landing in the burnout hoosegow?
I ran really, really, butt-draggin’ slow today. I embraced my really, really, butt-draggin’ slow splits. And it was good. And I’ll probably do the same tomorrow.
This is my body. It does great things for me, and I need to be nice to it instead of beating my legs to a pulp every day.
Because you know what happens when you keep beating something up in spite of it’s protests?
Sometime before or after the snake misadventures of our younger years, my brother and I used to have hamsters, one each. His was aptly named “Killer,” while I displayed an unprecedented show of innovation in naming mine “Hampy.”
For the first few weeks of their beady-eyed lives, Killer and Hampy shared a cage.
Killer was clearly the alpha hamster of the duo, and constantly bullied Hampy. He chased him around, fought him ’til he was bloody, and generally assaulted him with a long train of unwarranted abuses. Hampy lived in perpetual terror, and could frequently be found sitting atop the hamster wheel quivering with fear, while Killer stalked around at the bottom hissing, spitting, and exhibiting sociopathic devil-like hamster behavior.
I recall the day that Hampy and Killer’s disagreements came to a head as the two zipped around the cage like tiny furry rockets, biting, barking, and preparing for a ghastly fight to the death. I was screaming and crying and my dad was up to his elbows in hamster, trying to catch one of them and save them from eachother.
Eventually Hampy was rescued from the fray and delivered, trembling but safe, into my hands. I cooed and comforted him and promised that he would never have to go back into that cage. Killer, Lord Voldemort of Rodents, presided sinisterly over these events from behind the glass, looking enormously pissed. I stuck out my tongue at him.
We got a separate cage for Hampy, who grew to a ripe old age and lived happily ever after.
Killer, now with nothing to do but stew in his satanic soullessness, died shortly after Hampy moved out.
The conclusion here?
“Hamster karma is some serious shit.”
Kind of like running karma.
You don’t mess around. You don’t take stupid chances. You don’t beat your body up by training through injuries or piling on too much too soon. Sure, you might derive short-term gratification from doing those things, but eventually it all comes full circle and will return to haunt you in this life or the next.
Killer The Hamster learned this lesson the hard way. He didn’t listen or pay attention to what was going on around him. He kept beating Hampy up in spite of Hampy’s pleas. And so? Hampy peaced. And Killer, four parts fur, one part demon? Well, Killer got his.
Don’t end up like Killer.
Pay attention to the daily aches, listen to those legs, and take care of yourselves, runners. This hamster-inspired public service announcement was brought to you by my lack of good judgment.